J. Frank Hecht

J. Frank Hecht Interview*

History of Uptown, North Broadway District/W.H. Cairnduff Subdivisions, Document #17

Source: Mr. J.H. [J. Frank] Hecht, 6204 Broadway, a real estate man in the district who was employed by W.H. Cairnduff when the latter subdivided his land in 1888. Interviewed in December, 1927.

The land which W.H. Cairnduff subdivided was purchased from the government by Stephen Campbell in 1835. He sold it to Thomas Jenkins who re-sold it to W.P. Lyon in 1835. The land was next bought by a man named Harding who sold it to Thomas Thompson with a mortgage on it which Thompson did not know about. The mortgage was foreclosed by the sheriff of Cook County, a Mr. Chase, and held by him for thirty years. He leased the land for truck gardens. In 1886 the land was sold by Chase to Henry Ives Cobb, the latter holding it two years and renting it out as a farm. Mr. Cairnduff bought the land from Mr. Cobb in 1888. In the same year the land was laid out. Most of it was sold by 1900. The tract was bounded by Rosedale, Ridge, Broadway, and Glendale Avenues. [Editor’s note: the northern boundary was the alley north of Ardmore not Rosedale and it was Glenwood rather than Glendale Ave.]

All the land was restricted against the sale of liquor. The purchaser of the northwest corner of Broadway and Ridge bought the land for a grocery store and so the clause against liquor was left out of his contract. He had no more than secured the land than he sold it to persons who put up a saloon.

Ridge Avenue was the only street laid out when Cairnduff entered the district and so he laid his east and west streets to run parallel to it. These streets are named Early and Victor. By running them in this direction, Mr. Cairnduff thought the residents upon them would be in more direct line with the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul station. A few houses were built to get the subdivision going, but no stores were put up. The liquor restriction was not put upon the residential section.

The people who bought in this subdivision were of a good class. Most of them came from the north side closer in. They already loved the north side and came further out for more space for their children. One of the first buyers was a man named Williston who later became an alderman. The people who lived on the north side used to be twitted for their poor transportation and slowness. The south side had its Illinois Central and its streets went straight out from the loop. Those who lived on the south side used to banter about the difficulties getting through the north side because of the many irregular streets. While the north side seemed to enjoy the seclusion and privacy of such streets, the south side boasted that they were closer to the city and had thoroughfares that were easily approached and passed through. Still the residents of the northern section did not mind the inconvenience of living out farther, since they were away from the noise and unpleasantness of the factories. Although their little street did not always meet others, it gave residents the feeling of being on private driveways.

When Cairnduff subdivided, there was only a grocery store on Broadway near the subdivision. This had a stairway leading up to it, for the first floor was high. It was near Bryn Mawr and is torn down now. It was on the south side of the street just east of the L. The last owner was named McManus. He had bought it from a man by the name of Childs. [Editor’s note:  He is referring to the Guild Hall built by J.L. Cochran and located at the southwest corner of Bryn Mawr and Winthrop.]

I guess in the early days there was plenty of swampy land around here. I’ve heard the story of a three-year-old child running away from home and getting lost in the swamp east of Ridge. It seems while he was stumbling around he fell in an open ditch and was drowned.

* Judah Frank Hecht was born 15 May 1865 in LaPorte, Indiana, the child of parents born in Hesse and Bavaria, Germany. He died 18 August 1931 and is buried in Rosehill Cemetery. For many years he and his wife Wilhelmina and their three children lived at 5842 North Magnolia. In the early 1920s they moved to 1457 Rascher, where their youngest child, son Raymond C. Hecht, continued to live with his own wife and children into the 1940s.

Cover page: Documents: History of the Uptown Community, Chicago. Prepared for the Chicago Historical Society and the Local Community Research Committee, University of Chicago. Research under the direction of Vivien M. Palmer; staff investigators Marion Lindner and Beatrice Nesbit. These documents contain data just as it was secured form old residents and from existing documents. A final check of the data will appear in the volume of the Social History of Chicago.

Format: Photocopy of a typescript without page numbers in the Chicago History Museum library; volume 2 of a 6-volume set containing documentary information on 20 Chicago community districts/areas.

Publication date: 1925-1930.